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Same-Sex Couple’s Divorce Case Heads To Court After Judge Refuses To Recognize Marriage

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A same-sex couple is fighting for a divorce in Maryland. But a judge says they’re not even married here. Now, they’re headed to the state’s highest court.

Weijia Jiang has more on the controversial case.

The couple meets every criteria required to get a divorce in Maryland, only they’re both women. And that’s why they say they’re being discriminated against.

Jessica Port, 29, got married four years ago.

“We were very much in love,” Port said.

Then…

“We realized we wanted very different things in life,” said Port.

But when Port filed for a divorce in October 2010, a Prince George’s County judge denied her.

You see, Port is married to a woman. She and her ex exchanged vows in California when same-sex marriage was legal.

The judge said they could not be divorced because he doesn’t consider them to be married, and said: “To recognize the alleged marriage would be contrary to the public policy of Maryland.”

At least four other same-sex couples who were married in other states have been granted a divorce in Maryland. The judge in Port’s case did not elaborate about how her divorce would violate public policy, nor did he offer a written opinion.

“Once the General Assembly has spoken, I believe they’ve made it clear they’re in favor of recognition of those marriages,” Leslie Stellman, an attorney at Hodes, Pessin & Katz, P.A., said.

Attorneys for Port’s ex– who also wants a divorce– say the state is on their side.

Last month, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the Marriage Equality Act.

On Friday, they’ll try to overturn the divorce denial in Maryland’s highest court, pointing to dozens of cases where Maryland recognized marriages from other states that do not legally form here, like common law unions.

For Port it’s not only a legal matter, it’s an emotional one.

“I’m a homeowner in Maryland, I pay taxes in Maryland, I work in Maryland. I have every right to get a divorce like every other couple,” she said.

WJZ asked Port why she doesn’t go back to California to file for divorce. She says it’s not so simple and she has to file where she’s a resident, and her life is here in Maryland.

It will likely take several months before appellate judges make a ruling.

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